The deceased will be taken to the office of the Medical Examiner at 900 W 13th Street, Vancouver, unless released to a funeral home by the investigator.
Frequently Asked Questions
After death, where will the deceased be taken?
Do I need to come to the center to identify the body?
No. In the majority of cases, visual identification is not necessary.
Is viewing the deceased allowed?
The facility does not have adequate space for viewing. Please plan to make viewing arrangements at a funeral home.
Why is the office of the Clark County Medical Examiner involved?
State law (RCW 68.08.010) authorizes the medical examiner to determine the cause and circumstances of death in certain situations.
These generally consist of unattended deaths, when the cause of death is not established, when the circumstances of death indicate death was caused by unnatural or unlawful means, or death occurs under suspicious circumstances.
Will an autopsy be performed?
An autopsy is performed when there is a need to establish a cause of death or in cases where criminal proceedings may follow. The Medical Examiner may not perform an autopsy if the cause of death can be adequately determined and is from natural causes.
How long will it take before the body is released by your office?
Generally, our examination takes one or two days to complete. In some cases, it may take slightly longer.
What should I do now?
You should select a funeral home and notify the funeral director that the death is being handled by the Office of the Clark County Medical Examiner. Then please call us with name and phone number of the funeral home you have selected.
Who has responsibility for making final arrangements for the deceased?
According to state law (RCW 68.50.160), an individual can make prearrangements. Otherwise, the next-of-kin, guardian or other responsible party makes final arrangements.
Will an autopsy report be available?
Reports and records of autopsies, also called post-mortems, shall be confidential except to the: personal family representative or family member; attending physician; prosecuting attorney or law enforcement agencies with jurisdiction; public health officials; or Department of Labor and Industries, for cases in which it has an interest.
The Medical Examiner or his representative may meet with the family of the deceased upon request to discuss the autopsy findings.
Do I have to pay for the autopsy?
When will a death certificate be issued?
A death certificate will be initiated by our office and collected by the funeral home. The funeral director is responsible for filing the completed death certificate with Vital Records at Clark County Public Health and will provide the next-of-kin with certified copies upon request.
Frequently, an exact cause or manner of death is not determined at the completion of the autopsy. Special laboratory testing or investigation may need to be performed and, depending on the complexity, such tests may not be available for six to eight weeks. In such cases, a death certificate will be issued with "pending further investigation" and amended once the cause of death is established.
Where can I obtain a copy of the death certificate?
A copy of the death certificate may be provided by the funeral director or may be obtained from the vital statistics section of Clark County Public Health, phone number 564.397.8092, or the county in which the death occurred.
Will the deceased's personal effects be released to the family?
Yes. The personal effects can be released to the family with proper identification. They also may be released to the selected funeral home with the deceased.
Is it be possible to donate organs or tissue?
Yes. When the family wishes to make donations, members of the staff of the Clark County Medical Examiner will make the necessary arrangements.
Generally, the deceased is transferred to the donor bank for removal of organs or tissues, as desired by the family. Further information can be obtained from the regional donor bank by calling 800.843.7793.